Lichaa lets loose in search of fresh start
Motivated to prove the critics wrong, Bulldogs hooker Michael Lichaa has admitted he has had to take matters into his own hands the past fortnight in order to dispel the notion that he is a hooker lacking an attacking thrust.
Conceding in the lead-up to the Titans clash last Saturday that his style of play hadn't fit with coach Des Hasler's game-plan in three years at the Bulldogs, Lichaa cut loose on the Gold Coast, laying on two tries and running for more than 100 metres for the first time in two years.
The 24-year-old was one of five Bulldogs players farewelled after defeating the Sea Eagles 30-12 in Round 24 and is promising another attacking display against the Dragons on Sunday as he looks to shore up his future.
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After three years in the Sharks' under-20s Lichaa graduated to the club's NRL team in 2014 before being poached as Michael Ennis's replacement at Belmore, playing 64 games across the past three seasons but regressing in the eyes of many.
Lichaa himself says he doesn't regret a minute of his time at Canterbury but told NRL.com he has felt the need to unleash his attacking instincts in order to showcase his skills to those clubs currently courting his services.
"I probably don't have too much to lose at the moment," Lichaa said after the 26-14 win over the Titans.
"I'm just trying to get my future sorted and I've just got to play the way I know I can play.
"I think the last two weeks I've done that and hopefully can get something sorted soon.
"A lot of people might say that I don't run the ball and this and that but that's something I'll never lose. That was always my biggest strength and I know I've still got that. The last two weeks I've done that.
"Attack-wise, I know I've still got it there. I've showed the last two weeks that I've still got it. It's just a matter of doing it and getting the chance to and I think I have the last two weeks so that's all I can build off.
"I've met with a few teams and a few coaches and it's looking good. I've just got to get it sorted with my manager and sit down in the next week or two and try and figure it out and go from there."
Such was the regard for which Lichaa was held as he emerged in Cronulla's under-20s system that he was spoken about as a future New South Wales Origin hooker.
Those predictions seem a long way off now but Lichaa is adamant that his development at the defensive end whilst a Bulldog will hold him in good stead for whatever is to come next.
"Just because someone says you're going to be the next New South Wales hooker or something like that doesn't mean it's going to happen. You have to work hard for it," said Lichaa, who is set to represent Lebanon in the Rugby League World Cup later this year.
"It obviously hasn't gone exactly to plan the last few years for me but I've definitely learned a lot. I've loved the club and I don't regret any of it.
"People might say that I haven't gone as far as what I should have by this time but defence-wise I've definitely learnt a lot.
"To be able to do 50 and 60 tackles some games, I never thought I'd be able to do that and that's in the bank now and I know I can pull that off whenever I need to which is awesome.
"Half the game is tackling, especially if you're a hooker. I know I've got my defence down pat and the last two weeks I've really shown that I can still attack.
"You never really lose that, it's just bringing it back into my game so that's what I did."